Newcastle North MP, Catherine McKinnell, has renewed her backing for the RNIB’s campaign to ensure that everyone diagnosed with sight loss receives both practical and emotional support to come to terms with their diagnosis.
Catherine recently attended an event in Parliament hosted by The Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB), and supported by Blind Veterans UK, for the launch of RNIB’s new report ‘See the need’.
The report calls for every eye department in the UK to have access to a sight loss adviser, to support people when they’re told they are losing, or have permanently lost, their sight – with someone in the UK beginning to lose their sight every fifteen minutes, and almost 2 million people across the country affected by sight loss.
With many eye departments currently at full capacity due to our ageing population, and demand for services set to increase, ophthalmologists don’t always have the time they’d like to provide support.
Sight loss advisers can provide advice on everything from remaining in employment, to becoming more independent around the home, and reducing the risk of falls while out in the street environment. Research has also revealed that they can save significant amounts of money for health and social care budgets.
Failure to provide timely advice and support at the point of diagnosis can prevent people from leading fulfilling lives at home, at work, and in the community. Sight loss advisers can help people to develop the skills and confidence that they need to live independently. RNIB research has found that 87 per cent of patients who had seen a sight loss adviser felt that they had been provided with the practical support needed to live with sight loss.
‘I know from constituents how important it is for blind and partially-sighted people to receive quality, timely support when they’re diagnosed with sight loss. Without the right support available, people can be left isolated and unable to live independently.
‘However, I also know from campaigning on this issue locally just how uncertain and complicated the funding arrangements for sight loss advisers are – and this really is a service that deserves long-term security. I’m pleased to renew my support for this RNIB campaign.’
RNIB’s CEO, Lesley-Anne Alexander CBE, said:
‘It is crucial that every eye department in the UK has access to a qualified sight loss adviser.
‘Ophthalmologists and their teams are currently under enormous pressure; their clinics are at full capacity, and they are being asked to do more, without additional resources. Sight loss advisers can help to ease this pressure, providing vital support to patients and signposting them to key hospital and community services.’
Major General (Rtd) Nick Caplin CB, Chief Executive of Blind Veterans UK, said:
‘Blind Veterans UK is pleased to be working in collaboration with RNIB to raise awareness of the needs of vision impaired people. Blind Veterans UK currently supports over 4,000 blind veterans and their families, but we know that there are many more vision impaired veterans out there who could be benefitting from our support, but do not realise it.
‘Increased service provision for people with sight loss will result in better support and signposting to the charity for blind ex-Service men and women, who can then access our free, lifelong support.’